With July now over, tillage farmers have started the harvesting of winter barley and crops, writes Jim Dockery, FRS Network Health & Safety Manager.
In a few short weeks, spring crops will be also ready. August will be a busy month for both farmers contractors and feed merchants.
The weather plays a major part in the production of a cereal crop, rain is needed when it is sown and during the growth stages of the crop.
In the last few weeks, rain is needed again to help fill the ears but sunshine is also required to move on growth to push away the damp days when disease is rampant.
Unfortunately, none of the above can be controlled which can be stressful for the farmer.
Mental pressure can be very common especially at harvest times. The weather can have a massive bearing on how well farmers and their families are able to handle all the pressures of harvest time.
It may well be the only chance in the year that they can financially catch up on bills.
Getting a bumper crop and hoping the price is good at the time of sale to the grain merchant can ease this burden hugely.
Labour and safety
There are two other factors that can reduce ‘pressure on the farmer’ during this period;
Planning in advance of harvesting will mean that the farmer has thought about having sufficient labour requirements in place.
An extra tractor driver or a spare trailer in the field will make a difference when trying to get work done, if weather conditions change.
Ensure machinery is well serviced in advance. Having access to a local mechanic in the event of a break down, or even having a member of your staff qualified as a machinery mechanic is of massive benefit when machinery breaks down.
It is important to know the amount of staff needed and have good staff available.
When hiring temporary staff, ask them to come earlier than needed to ensure they are familiar with the set up. Farmers don’t have time for this once the combine rolls out.
Carry out an induction in the form of a 20-minute chat with all staff in the yard or workshop. Talk about what you expect from each worker throughout the season, repeat this after a week or two.
Spell out that each person is responsible for daily checks for their own vehicle; greasing, oil, water, tyres, or carrying stock of spare parts. This is very beneficial to all staff as they are aware of their role and responsibilities and gives the farmer peace of mind.
Farmers need to take the lead role when implementing farm safety. Safety needs to be discussed in the induction with all staff and contractors prior to work starting and regular discussions following on while work is in progress.
Include safety with running machinery, outline your policy when using phone while driving, discuss speeding, trailer weights and taking due care to other road users.
Farmers need to remember it is their duty to ensure their staff understands and adheres to farm safety guidelines.
It is also the responsibility of the farmers to provide staff with PPE when carrying out repairs and maintenance.
Farmers need to implement a Covid-19 protocol. All staff should sign in daily and follow a contact logging process.
A machinery cleansing protocol also needs to be put in place and where possible, avoid sharing drivers.
If you require farm aid in the coming weeks, FRS Farm Relief Services have a range of reliable farm staff available. FRS operators and technicians are following the current Covid-19 guidelines to safeguard the health and safety of customers and themselves.
To find out more about FRS Farm Relief Services, click here.